Detroit fans are understandably frustrated with the performance of the 2022 Lions. After HBO’s “Hard Knocks” put a national spotlight on a consistently forgotten franchise, the feeling going into the current season was one of hope and optimism. The aura around the team felt different than past years, and it felt like Detroit had found a cure for the virus that was the Matt Patricia era.
That cure was none other than Dan Campbell, who most recently was the tight ends coach in New Orleans. His only experience as a head coach was in 2015, when he bridged the gap between the Joe Philbin and Adam Gase regimes as an interim head coach. As a player, he served as the starting tight end for the Lions for the 2006 season(he also was on the roster in 2007 and 2008 but was injured for all but 3 games).
It was immediately clear from the opening press conference that Campbell was the perfect fit for the team and the city. He was someone who came off as genuine, passionate, and hard working- characteristics that embody the culture of the city of Detroit. Although the team went 3-14 in his first season, the players were all in on MCDC, and so was the fanbase. The roster he had to work with in 2021 had the least amount of talent out of any NFL team by a long shot, and Lions fans had little expectations in the first season without Matt Stafford. Although Matt Patricia won more games in his first season, it was clear that he was not respected in the locker room. Dan Campbell was the anti-Patricia, which is why the Motor City was so excited about the 2022 season and what it could bring.
We are now one month into the 2022 season, and the public opinion from the Detroit media has done a complete 180. The team is currently sitting at 1-4, and their most recent loss was the most embarrassing by a wide margin. In 4th round rookie Bailey Zappe’s debut as a starter, the Patriots embarrassed the Lions on both sides of the ball. Detroit fell victim to only the second shutout of 2022 league wide, despite coming into week 5 with the best scoring offense.
Dan Campbell took full responsibility for the loss, and he deserves blame for his poor decision making and play calling. However, the fact that media outlets are trying to push the narrative that he is now on the “hot seat” is absurd. The week 5 loss was the only game in which the Lions were never competitive in, which understandably leaves a sour taste in fans’ mouths. What I don’t understand is people calling for a head coaches dismissal 20 games into a tenure, especially when the franchise publicly stated that they are going in the direction of a rebuild that will take a long time.
There is nothing wrong with holding a coach accountable for sub-par performance, but it is far too early to throw in the towel. For the first time in nearly a decade, the franchise has a clear direction and a good culture set in place. Call me a blind optimist, but I’m not ready to give up on Dan Campbell yet.